A Millennial’s Attempt At Understanding Research About Her Own Generation – #ResearchAboutMillennials
By Giulia Gasperi
Ever attended a conference presentation feeling like you were in a Discovery Channel documentary about yourself? If so, you’re probably a Millennial.
Millennials have been placed in the world’s biggest petri dish, by a landslide. The Google search query “Research about Millennials” unleashes roughly 21,300,000 results – that’s 100 times more sources than what lurks behind the search term “Research about GenX”.
Unable to resist the idea of exploring a virtual landscape almost as vast as habitable Planet Earth, I wrote this blog post to start a conversation with you on the broader topic of Research By/About/For/Through/[insert preposition of your choice] Millennials.
I invite you, my fellow researchers, thinkers and Discovery Channel Docu-stars of the Millennial Generation, to help me untangle some of the seemingly contradicting insights related to Millennials. You can do so by casting your vote for different sides of my story in polls sprinkled throughout this post, and by sharing your thoughts in the comment box at the bottom. I look forward to collecting your opinions to tie them into upcoming stuff in my Research X Millennials content series.
Out of hundreds of stats, this one is probably my favorite. As contradictory as it may sound, it perfectly summarizes what happens when you stuff billions of consumers into the same, enormous petri dish. And it begs the question: if they don’t consider themselves a Millennial, then what do they identify with, exactly? Curious to hear your thoughts on this.
1/ Millennials vs older generations
On the fence? Let’s review a few arguments in favor of either schools of thought.
So what? A solve to this divide in opinion proposes that Millennials follow the same life trajectory as previous generations, but with more stops along the way. Their path in life is a snakes and ladders game: less linear than before, a jumble of milestones that result in a more complex journey into adulthood. The differences between “Say” and “Do” are dictated by external factors, such as the economic climate they live in.
A more complicated life journey has repercussions on many aspects of life. Because “Millennials in the workplace” was one of the biggest themes in my 10-Google-page crusade. I decided to take a closer look at this aspect.
2/ Millennials in the workplace
Here are some more stats for both sides of this argument:
|They have not significantly impacted dynamics in the workplace||They have significantly impacted dynamics in the workplace|
They make their own career decisions: they are less influenced by parents or friends than generally expected.
They rely on others for career decisions: Top 1 approach to seeking employment is to be referred by a friend, relative or other connection
So what? This was my Aha! moment:
- While the Economist and CEB Global agree that 51% of Millennials look for jobs elsewhere, compared to 37% of GenX, CEB adds that 53% of Millennials find internal opportunities desirable, suggesting that Millennials are not Job hopping – they’re Experience hopping.
- Why is that? My speculation leads me to think that companies are still looking for the right loyalty triggers to help Millennials stick around. For example:
- 63% believe their leadership skills are not being developed
- Hiring managers today choose to hire more and more freelancers because of their fit with current workplace realities – e.g. the ability to put a supplier to work immediately, scaling employment in a way that mirrors business priorities and accessing specific skills.
In a way, Millennials are thus left with no other choice than to adapt to a more dynamic workplace:
- 79% consider quitting their regular job to work for themselves
- 82% believe starting a business today is easier than it has ever been before.
What looks like a chicken vs. egg argument essentially implies that businesses could do a better job at bridging the gap to ensure a new generation of business leaders is created.
Unleashing loyalty and answering the question “what’s in it for me” is just as important in the Millennial workplace as in other aspects of their lives.
To unleash their loyalty, we need to look at what drives it and better understand Millennial Values and Attitudes.
This shifts the conversation into my third and last monologue/debate.
3/ Millennial Values & Attitudes
Hail The Stats!
|Individualistic & Me-Minded||Inclusive & We-Minded|
They are comfortable in their home nest: 60% eat with their family 4-5 nights per week, 85% mention parents are their best friends
A few thoughts as to why we are so divided on this. The easiest approach is to fall back on the good old “we can’t bundle billions of people together” argument. This article looks at how Millennials choose where to live, and states that while 42% want to stay near their families, 41% decide where to live based on their job and career decisions – that’s an equal share on both sides of the value spectrum. Different people have different priorities, and being a Millennial doesn’t change that.
I’d be ok with that, was it not for the stat about trust, which caught me off guard. How can Millennials be socially minded and distrusting at the same time?
- Less than 1 in 2 Millennials trust experts (e.g. doctors, financial advisors) to convince them of the merit of a brand (vs. 61% non-Millennials)
- 53% say they don’t trust anyone with financial guidance
On the opposite side of the spectrum,
- More than 1 in 2 Millennials trust websites and digital/social media advertising (vs. 33% non-Millennials)
- 60% want their banks to be a partner or friend
Next to this, Forbes argues that Millennials integrate their beliefs in causes of their choice, for companies they choose to support.
They are on the constant search for authenticity, for political and ethical truth.
Millennials are trying to shape their own way of navigating a reality sprinkled with corporate scandals, the fall of many long-standing financial institutions and the dot-com bubble burst. Disillusionment turns into learning experiences, and learning experiences turn one-track minds into multi-faceted chameleons.
Sometimes, the explanation lies on both sides of the spectrum.
Embracing their complexity can help us move closer to Millennial audiences and find new sweet spots to engage with them.
I mean us. 🙂
Enough from my end for now – curious to hear what you think, and specifically, what you believe this means for other big Millennial Labels, like “Shareconomy” or “The Wired Generation”.
Share your comments below!
Giulia Gasperi is known mostly for her faith in unicorns and love for fun facts, she speaks 5 languages and has resided in 9 countries across 4 continents. Today, as Research Director at InSites Consulting, she inspires top-tier brands all over the world and helps them unlock extraordinary insights from everyday consumer realities. Tomorrow, she hopes to become a ballerinastronaut.
The day research stopped feeling like research
By Bianca Vucescu
In both quantitative and qualitative studies, quality is a hot topic. Fraud prevention is a first step in increasing the quality of research, yet how can we know beforehand if a real participant will offer us the insights we are looking for? We keep talking about data health and data cleaning. And while it’s still a mandatory practice, what if we didn’t have to dedicate any time and energy on this? What if participants would continuously provide high-quality data in research studies? What if we could attract and engage consumers for the long term?
I hear a lot about so-called ’professional participants‘, those who aim to qualify for as many surveys as possible, are driven by extrinsic motivation and give the ’correct‘ answers rather than to provide honest feedback. This affects our industry but also our clients, who take decisions based on this ‘dishonest’ feedback. But then again, aren’t we the ones who reap this behavior based on what we sowed? Aren’t we the ones who offer points, vouchers or other monetary rewards and as such encourage the ‘professional participant’? I am not saying that (monetary) incentives cannot be a part of ‘sustainable’ research, but we should strongly consider what else is valuable to people. It’s not always about money; who can put a price on experience, knowledge, entertainment, involvement or impact?
Our world is becoming increasingly fast and snappy and when conducting research, brands need to align with this reality. We cannot longer conduct endless surveys and expect people to pay attention, when we all know that the attention span is decreasing, especially amongst the younger generation. Looking at the social media landscape, we see that visual apps (like Instagram, Snapchat) have the most rapid usage growth. Isn’t that a clear indication that surveys have to follow the same path? We have to realize that what is considered as boring in ’real life’ will also be perceived as boring in research studies. Let’s not forget about how we can use technology to improve research results, get better insights and shorten the length of surveys. Neuro-marketing tools for research like facial coding, passive meters, implicit measurements, virtual reality, gamification tools can be integrated in research to achieve better and richer insights without overwhelming participants with explicit questions.
What if brands had a dedicated network, built and managed differently than today’s panels, which they could access for research as often as needed?
That’s exactly what a ’Sustainable Consumer Connection’ is: a network of relevant people who are intrinsically motivated to interact and express opinions about specific topics or brands.
The way we sample influences the human experience, so one goal while moving forward is to do so based on the people’s interests. If I feel strongly about a topic or product, I will be more likely to participate, pay more attention during the research and give my honest opinion. This will result in quality insights for the researcher. Research studies should be a positive brand touch point experience for participants. There is nothing worse than asking someone for a drink and while they are waiting to send them a message saying ’Thank you for your interest, but I would rather have a drink with someone else; so no more screen-outs and quota-fulls. Technically, one could argue that studying intrinsically motivated people does not generate random samples. That’s correct, but at least their responses are valid internally and reflect reality. In all honesty, most of the research we conduct is not as representative as we think.
Looking at the young generation, our future participants, they want to be involved more than ever, make an impact and be treated like the intelligent humans that they are. They don’t want to participate in surveys which contain questions that sometimes seem pointless to them. We encourage them to participate in research in order to shape the future of brands and products but they rarely actually know what the impact is of their contribution. Youngsters are curious and we need to feed that curiosity. So why not share with them how their input effectively impacted the future? Isn’t that an incentive which will motivate them to participate in future research?
To sum up, market research should no longer feel like market research! It should be an experience that everyone would like to take part in because it is fun and interactive, they learn something new and can help with the creation of new products.
Future research has to be in line with the traits we see in the future generation: use top-of-the-line technology and be short, snappy, visual, entertaining, relevant to the consumer. This will lead to a win-win situation, where a research activity is not only engaging but also results in fresher and more powerful insights for us researchers.
Rather than trying to keep up with the present, market research should be ahead of times. We need to accept that the old way of gathering sample is not sustainable, so let’s put the consumer at the heart of our business, empowering them and giving them the level of importance that they deserve.
Bianca Vucescu is Senior Media Buyer at InSites Consulting and one of the participants in ESOMAR’s Corporate Youth Programme.
By Alieke Stubbe
Every day we interact continuously with technology by using our smartphones, wearing activity trackers and being online every single moment of the day. Thanks to this, we get smart notifications and real-time information. Think about Google Calendar that tells you exactly when to leave for work based on real-time calculations. My Garmin tracks my activity every day and I just love the fact that I can follow my own activity and optimise my daily behaviour via a personal app.
Technologies enable us to do things we could not imagine a few years ago, but there are still some issues today. First of all, it’s not a seamless experience. We need PIN codes and passwords or have to carry extra devices, which can be rather messy. Overall, nothing is really connected and this creates a very fragmented experience. Secondly, the most important and biggest issue, it’s a blind spot. We don’t always know when we are disclosing information or what will be done with it. We have no control over our own information!
Imagine we could “uberize” the whole idea of data collection: what if humans could leverage and exploit all the data they are collecting anyway? Just like pretty much everyone can drive a car, what if everyone could make value of their own data? Moreover, how can the market research industry benefit more from technology and consumers’ addiction to track just about everything? How can we combine the value these technologies bring consumers with our need to collect data?
In comes the chip: a non-painful chip implant that can be (de)activated by the chip carrier every month. A chip so smart that it captures your behaviour, the brands you use, your emotions, moods, thoughts and attitudes. A chip that can connect with your debit card, smartphone, car and even your home security system. A chip that uploads all data in real time. All these metrics are tracked and can be used anonymously for commercial purposes (like in traditional market research).
And what’s in it for you, the chip carrier? The chip provides you with the ultimate personal coach! You can set personal goals according to your weight or your activity level. You can get personalized working schedules, spending alerts and so on. Companies can offer you customized services and products based on your data (e.g. bank accounts, insurances, etc.). And all this very conveniently and seamlessly. Above all, you are the one in charge of your data, you decide when you want to share your personal information and to whom.
Think about it, no more self-reported data, no more ad-hoc set-ups, no more ‘annoying’ questionnaires. Think about real-time human data and having access to everything consumers do, think and feel. This way we can move from researching to monitoring. Furthermore, we can forget about looking at the what, who, how and when questions; the chip will tell us everything. The only thing we still need to figure out is the WHY, why do consumers do what they do?
So what do you think? What would you want in return for sharing everything you do, think and feel? How much would you want for having a (market research) chip implanted in your wrist, tracking every movement? What price would you want for giving up your privacy? 10 000 euro a year? 500 euro for every month you share your data? Would you have your studies paid in exchange for sharing all your data during those studies? What would be a fair transaction between research agency and participant?
Alieke joined InSites Consulting as a Qualitative Research Consultant, after completing a Master’s degree in industrial psychology & human resources and a Postgraduate degree in marketing management. As part of the InSites Consulting Technology & Services team, she is currently working for a range of local and global clients. With this idea on the future of market research she was rewarded with the Febelmar Young Talent Award at the annual Febelmar Congress in Brussels.
This is part of RWC blog series on employability of young people. With these pieces and as a young researcher, I will try to pass on my insights and experience aiming to give a guideline to all young professionals who are seeking information on how to start their career in the field of market research.
By Helene Protopapas
In my previous post I addressed the problem of attracting young professionals to the industry and how to overcome it, arguing that the best touch-point is the university, because it is the first step of the journey for every future research leader. I also argued that businesses have a crucial role to play in educating young people by regularly visiting academic institutions and teaching their practices to undergraduate and graduate students.
In this post, I am going to share a personal experience aiming to illustrate the value of learning from real-work practices by business professionals in-class and furthermore to support my argument on businesses promoting widely the industry through transmitting their knowledge and practices at schools.
Most people choose the same academic institution for their undergraduate and graduate studies but luckily enough I had the opportunity to experience studying in two different schools. Looking back and comparing the teaching materials and methods between the two universities, I can only recall the practical cases and the projects. Theoretical models were great and provided me with the basis of a solid learning background but when it comes now to real everyday work, I struggle to associate tasks with theories that I have read in a textbook. On the contrary, I still remember with glory and excitement all these cases and projects I worked on real businesses.
My post-graduate school was very innovative compared to my under-graduate school, in terms of preparing the students for the professional life after graduation, through maximum exposure to the business world. The school invited businesses to campus every week to discuss their activities and career opportunities for students. Executives were also invited to teach part or an entire module with their business practices, aiming to transmit their knowledge and specialization in an area that would be valuable for the new generation of research professionals and future leaders. In my year there were a number of modules taught by professional executives that gave me the opportunity to experience at first-hand the knowledge created within the business that has strengthened my expertise. In fact, these are now the only modules I recall and associate with the industry on my everyday work life.
Furthermore, the school in collaboration with industry leaders and brands, organized a number of business challenges at school, where all students of my year participated in groups aiming to generate complete research projects on a topic and brand given. The winning team in every challenge was offered a complimentary prize by the business that hosted the challenge. From a business perspective, the purpose of this initiative run by young professionals who are ready to bring in new fresh ideas, is to innovate and to raise exposure among the new generation of professionals. From an academic perspective, students are inspired to innovate on a real work project that has actual impact for the business and the wider society creating as well an unforgettable experience for themselves.
The average length of the challenges was 12-13 weeks, which was enough time throughout the semester to cover all materials needed for the challenge with lectures and meetings on a weekly basis. The project objectives were determined at week 1, followed by students’ group-executive supervisor discussion and assessment for every stage of the project in every week. The project included several real-life business issues, i.e. pricing budgets or legal limitations that made the actual experience even more interesting and realistic. Meetings were all held on campus except the award day that we were invited for at their offices. By that day, we were all so familiar with the business that we were feeling as if we were a part of it.
Overall, it was an invaluable experience for me and my classmates because every week we had the opportunity to learn a new technique, a new trend or a new practice that kept us all enthusiastic throughout the length of the project. It was a very interactive experience where both students and executive supervisors were keen to contribute, listen and learn from each other: we were exploring the business world and they were investigating new fresh ideas.
In fact, this initiative is an excellent example that is beneficial not only for the students and the businesses but also for the entire research industry. Businesses coming to school and working with students on research topics, promote widely the industry and the research practices. Being exposed to the industry, students get the opportunity to explore, comprehend and consider the possible career pathways in research and affiliated fields. At last, utilizing the university as a touch-point to raise awareness and to improve the reputation is very effective since the audience represents the next generation of business leaders.
Helene Protopapas is IE Business School graduate student in Market Research & Consumer Behaviour. Connect with her via @elenaprot